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Friday, August 10, 2012

SCHOOL BOARD MAY NOT RAISE TAXES & OTHER NOTES

THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
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by Michael Monks 
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For the first time since 2001 the Covington School Board may bypass its right to take a full 4% increase on the property tax rate that it collects and instead will likely approve taking just the compensating rate. That means property owners will pay the same tax rate to the schools as they did last year. Superintendent Lynda Jackson made the recommendation at Thursday's meeting. 
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"If we can do our work without taking a tax increase, I say let's do it," said board member Jerry Avery. 
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"We are good stewards of district dollars," said board chair Glenda Huff. "If we need something we find a way to make it happen and we look at what may need to be cut."
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"The Covington Independent Public School Board is thrilled to share with our community the good news that we will be taking the compensating tax rate for the upcoming tax year," said board member Krista Powers. "This is a reason to celebrate! While we are pleased with our ongoing fiscal success our primary celebration remains focused on our students' success."
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Board member Mike Fitzgerald was not present at Thursday's meeting.
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Budget in good shape
The school district finished the fiscal year with a balance of $6,384,669.63 and a contingency balance of $2,498,640.00 (with the difference between real ending balance and contingency balnce being $3,886,059.63). Some reasons for good budget news:
  • Buyout of cell phone tower at Holmes High School for $162,420
  • $221,790 in sick leave projections not spent
  • Departments spent more conservatively with $371,139,63 in their combined general funds
  • $1.5 million in SEEK funds were not spent
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Filling the vacant school board seat
Since board member Denise Varney's resignation last week, the district has followed the necessary steps to find a replacement which will be appointed by the Kentucky Commissioner of Education. In Friday's edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer, a legal ad will run announcing the vacancy for the first of two times as required by law. There are applications available at the Board of Education building on East Seventh Street which should be filed directly with the Education Commissioner in Frankfort, postmarked no later than August 24. Following the application process, the Commissioner and a panel of three people will come to town to interview each applicant. Superintendent Lynda Jackson explained that the Commissioner has ninety days to make the appointment but that it usually does not take that long.
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Steps to improve ACT scores, college/career readiness
Instructional coach Renee Murray presented some positive news to the board regarding plans to improve ACT scores and college/career readiness at Holmes High School. "We are improving our graduation rate," Murray said. "It did not improve enough to please us but it's still not comparing apples to apples." Murray said that CIPS is a transient district and because of that the state's calculations put the district at risk. That will change next year as students begin to be tracked individually from ninth through twelfth grade. 
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As for ACT scores, "Not what we hoped for, but it's good that we are headed in the right direction," Murray said. Starting in the 2012-13 school year there will be ACT-specific intervention courses. The school administration plans to test ninth graders to see where they are a year before they are accountable for the PLAN test, a pre-ACT. The goal is to familiarize the students with the types of content and questions on the actual ACT. Additionally, thirty seniors will be selected for an ACT boot camp that will include thirty sessions to prepare them for October's testing date. These seniors will be specially selected based on their proximity to their benchmark scores.
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"For many of our students eager about scholarships, they need those scores back from the October (ACT) session," Murray said.
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Murray also addressed concerns about attendance. "If we can't get our students to school then they are not learning what we need them to be learning," she said. Some instructors at Holmes will be used for one period each week to teach discipline, allowing them to follow-up with students who may have missed or skipped school. The staff will begin holding monthly meetings specifically to address attendance issues. 
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Board member Krista Powers pushed for a stricter standard on the dress code as a way to increase focus and discipline. "I would at this point like to see us sending students away if they are not dressed according to code," she said. "We'll lose educational hours which is concerning to me, but where do you draw the line? It's a dynamic of our expectations of the students."
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Superintendent Jackson explained that the district does not wish to send kids home but there will be ways to address the lack of commitment displayed by students in regards to a dress code. There will be generic gray sweatpants available and Jackson researched a school district that requires an out-of-dress-code student to wear a t-shirt that reads "I love my principal". 

1 comment:

  1. Let's just HOPE the dress code is evenly observed.

    ReplyDelete